Curry rescues Warriors, Celtics down Bucks in NBA playoffs

Curry rescues Warriors, Celtics down Bucks in NBA playoffs
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals on May 09, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (AFP)
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Updated 10 May 2022

Curry rescues Warriors, Celtics down Bucks in NBA playoffs

Curry rescues Warriors, Celtics down Bucks in NBA playoffs
  • Golden State’s task had been made more challenging by the absence of coach Steve Kerr, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier Monday and was unable to take his seat on the bench

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry scored 32 points as the Golden State Warriors survived a scare to defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 101-98 and move to the brink of the Western Conference playoff finals on Monday.

Curry poured in 18 points in the final quarter as an out-of-sorts Warriors reeled in the Grizzlies with less than a minute remaining to close out victory and take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Memphis, who suffered a 142-112 mauling in Game 3 on Saturday, had looked poised to punish one of the worst Golden State offensive displays in years to seize victory at San Francisco’s Chase Center.

But after leading from the opening quarter until the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies, without the injured Ja Morant, were unable to hold on.

And as Memphis tightened down the stretch, it was Curry who kept his cool to reel off a string of free throws that allowed Golden State to edge home.

Curry gave the Warriors their first lead of the night from the free throw line at 94-93 with 45.7 seconds remaining.

The eight-time All-Star then bagged six more free throws to help put the hosts five points clear at 100-95 with 9.7 seconds on the clock to effectively ice the game.

Andrew Wiggins finished with 17 points while Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole both had 14 points apiece.

Curry’s points haul included a three-pointer that made him the first player to score 500 threes in the NBA playoffs.

But for long periods that statistical milestone looked like being of scant consolation for Golden State, who shot just 36 of 90 from the field all night.

Curry was at a loss to explain Golden State’s lacklustre offensive display, which came so soon after Saturday’s free-scoring game-three blitz.

“That’s basketball,” Curry said. “We got a little rushed in the first six minutes and I set the tone for some ugly offense.

“But credit to our defense. They kept us in it. We had a chance to weather the storm.”

Golden State’s task had been made more challenging by the absence of coach Steve Kerr, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier Monday and was unable to take his seat on the bench.

Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Memphis scorers with 21 points with Tyus Jones adding 19.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins was left ruing his team’s agonizing late loss.

“We played well for 48 minutes, the ball just didn’t bounce our way a couple of times late in the fourth quarter,” Jenkins said. “We’ve just got to find a way to play better and win game five.”

In Milwaukee, Al Horford scored 30 points as the Boston Celtics produced a devastating late scoring burst to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-108 and knot their best-of-seven series at 2-2.

The defending champion Bucks looked to be heading toward a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series after stretching into an 11-point lead late in the third quarter, with Giannis Antetokounmpo in commanding form.

But a devastating fourth-quarter shooting display from the Celtics — with Horford scoring 16 points as Boston outscored Milwaukee 43-28 — transformed the contest as the Celtics head home to Boston for game five on Wednesday.

Horford’s total was a career-high in playoff games and gives the Celtics a crucial advantage with two of the three remaining games in the series taking place in Boston.

Horford received scoring support from Jayson Tatum, who added 30 points, while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart both finished with 18 points apiece.

Derrick White added 11 points from the bench as five Celtics players finished in double figures to silence Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum crowd.

“Our backs were against the wall. We needed to respond and that’s what we did,” Horford said.

“We didn’t quit, we just kept pushing,” the 35-year-old five-time All-Star added.

“Playoffs is hard. You have to grind and get down to it... we just needed to find a way.”

Antetokounmpo led the scoring for Milwaukee with 34 points in a losing effort, with 18 rebounds and five assists, while Brook Lopez finished with 17 points.


Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks
Updated 36 sec ago

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks

Rafael Nadal into Wimbledon quarters as Nick Kyrgios lurks
  • Rafael Nadal shows no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their evening clash on Center Court

LONDON: Rafael Nadal swept into the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Monday, staying on course for a crunch meeting with Nick Kyrgios, who was on his best behavior in a battling five-set win.

In the women’s competition, 2019 champion Simona Halep demolished Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa in just 60 minutes to set up a meeting with Amanda Anisimova.

Nadal, chasing a rare calendar Grand Slam, started his campaign at the All England Club slowly but is now in the groove as he hunts a third Wimbledon crown.

He showed no mercy to Dutch 21st seed Botic van de Zandschulp in their evening clash on Center Court, overcoming a late wobble to seal a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) win.

“I think I continued in a positive way until the end where I played a bad game,” said the Spanish second seed.

“In a personal way, for me to be able to be in quarterfinals after three years (away from Wimbledon) it’s amazing for me so very, very happy.”

Nadal broke his opponent five times in the match, capitalizing on his fourth match point to reach the Wimbledon quarters for the eighth time.

If the 22-time Grand Slam champion beats 11th seed Taylor Fritz and Kyrgios gets past Chile’s Cristian Garin, they will meet in a mouthwatering semifinal on Friday.

Kyrgios earlier shrugged off a shoulder injury to beat US player Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 3-6, 6-2.

The maverick Australian was a changed man just two days after his stormy third-round victory against Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Kyrgios looked to be in trouble when Nakashima broke for 4-3 in the fourth and took the set courtesy of a lazy Kyrgios service game.

But he rallied in the decider, passing the 100-ace mark for the tournament and breaking twice to secure the win.

Kyrgios, who needed regular physio treatment, hammered 79 winners, including 35 aces.

The last time the 40th-ranked player reached the last eight at a major was at the Australian Open in 2015, a year after he reached the same stage on his debut at the All England Club.

But he is seen as a major threat to Nadal, whom he beat on his way to the quarter-finals in 2014.

The Australian, 27, said he was trying to stay “in the moment.” 

“I’m not thinking about lifting a trophy or making semifinals or making the final,” he said.

“I’m just thinking about my habits every day, just trying to put in a good performance on the court, then put in a good practice session, try to stay positive, try to really separate.

“You know, once I’m off the court, enjoy time with my team, my girlfriend, and just really enjoy that, then get into the game mode.”

The unseeded Garin pulled off an astonishing comeback against Australia’s Alex de Minaur, whom he had not beaten before.

The Chilean recovered from two sets down and saved two match points in the fifth set to beat the 19th seed in a gruelling contest lasting four hours and 34 minutes.

America’s Fritz, who beat Nadal in the Indian Wells final earlier this year, cruised past Australian qualifier Jason Kubler for the loss of just eight games.

Former world No. 1 Halep is looking increasingly dangerous as she makes stately progress toward a second Wimbledon crown in a draw now short of big names.

The Romanian’s match against Badosa appeared tricky on paper but proved anything but, with the 16th seed coming through 6-1, 6-2.

Halep, yet to drop a set at Wimbledon this year, will face Anisimova of the US for a place in the semifinals.

Anisomova, seeded 20, ended the dream run of French player Harmony Tan, who shocked Serena Williams in her opening match, winning 6-2, 6-3.

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina beat Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets and will face Ajla Tomljanovic after the Australian ended the run of French veteran Alize Cornet.

Earlier, Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton said tournament bosses had lodged an appeal against fines handed down by the WTA women’s tour for bans on Russian and Belarusian players.

The All England Club imposed the sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and players were also prevented from playing in Wimbledon warm-up events.

Both the ATP men’s tour and the WTA reacted to the Wimbledon ban by stripping the Grand Slam of ranking points.


US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event

US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event
Updated 7 min 39 sec ago

US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event

US, Jamaica women win in World Cup, Olympic qualifying event
  • The eight-team tournament at Monterrey serves as the North American qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and the 2024 Paris Olympics

MONTERREY, Mexico: Two-time defending champion US blanked Haiti 3-0 on Monday in the opening match of the CONCACAF W tournament, a regional qualifier for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympics.

The two-time reigning Women’s World Cup champion US seized a 2-0 half-time lead through goals by Alex Morgan in the 16th and 23rd minutes. Midge Purce added the third in the 84th minute for the Americans.

In the day’s other match, Jamaican captain Khadija Shaw scored in the eighth minute to give her team a 1-0 victory over host Mexico.

The eight-team tournament at Monterrey serves as the North American qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Group A features the USA, Jamaica, Mexico and Haiti while Group B comprises Canada, Costa Rica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

The two top teams in each group will advance to the semifinals and next year’s Women’s World Cup with third-place group teams advancing to next February’s global playoff for three final Women’s World Cup spots.

The CONCACAF champion will advance to the Paris Olympics while the runner-up and third-place teams will meet in a playoff next year to determine another 2024 berth in France.


Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open
Updated 05 July 2022

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open

Poulter, 2 others win court stay to play in Scottish Open
  • The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman

VIRGINIA WATER, England: Ian Poulter and two other players who signed up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series won a stay Monday from a British court that allows them to play in the Scottish Open.

Poulter, Adrian Otaegui of Spain and Justin Harding of South Africa challenged their suspension from the Scottish Open and two other tournaments, the penalty for playing a LIV Golf event outside London without a release from the European tour.

They will be added to the field this week at The Renaissance Club for the Scottish Open, the first European Tour event co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour suspended its members who signed up for the Saudi-backed series run by Greg Norman. Poulter is also a PGA Tour member.

Poulter was among 16 players who hinted at legal action over European tour penalties, though the temporary stay after a hearing before Judge Phillip Sycamore, who was appointed by Sports Resolutions (UK), applied only to the three players.

“I will simply say we are disappointed by the outcome of today’s hearing, but will abide by the decision,” European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said in a statement. “It is important to remember, however, this is only a stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate.”

Pelley was at the JP McManus Pro-Am in Ireland and said he would withhold a more detailed response until the charity event was over, out of respect to the hosts. McManus has attracted a world-class field that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler and a host of other major champions.

Poulter also is playing the two-day event in Ireland.

Earlier in the day, he told BBC Sports he was fighting for his right to play golf.

“My commitment to the European Tour has been there since day one,” he said. “And it’s still there today. I’m proud of playing so often, when it was to the detriment of world ranking points and FedEx Cup points I could have earned playing more in America.”

Along with the suspension, players who competed in LIV Golf without permission were fined £100,000 ($121,000), roughly the amount of last-place money in the $20 million LIV events.


Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France
Updated 05 July 2022

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

Five things to watch out for on the Tour de France

DUNKIRK, FRANCE: The Tour de France gets back underway Tuesday after a successful three days in Denmark with a series of testing stages that will shape the destiny of the 2022 yellow jersey.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at five things worth watching out for in the next seven days:

— With three hilly stages, two mountain days and the treacherous cobbles, attack-minded Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin will be straining at the leash to once more claim the overall leader’s yellow jersey after a fine run in 2021. He can probably not do it in the mountains, but the one-day specialist sits just 20 seconds off Wout van Aert’s lead and may even go for the gun between Dunkirk and Calais on Tuesday.

— The Tour takes on 20km of the old mining roads that led the Paris-Roubaix to gain its nickname ‘the Hell of the North’. That stretch could provide a shake-up in the overall standings and may also reveal the true nature of the pecking order inside the teams with more than one leader.

If Tadej Pogacar’s hand injury is worse than he is showing, it will be put to a rude test. Ineos could protect Adam Yates, or opt to allow Geraint Thomas to plow on if he is in difficulty. Primoz Roglic would appear stronger for Jumbo, but they also have Jonas Vingegaard as a possible leader and will also consider how long to try and keep Wout van Aert in yellow.

— The last time the Tour took on this climb in the Vosges mountains to the storied summit finish, Thomas gained time on all his key rivals on the punishing upper reaches contested over gravel. The Tour winner will likely not be revealed here, with time differences between the overall contenders expected to remain within 30-40 seconds. But this is the Tour’s first summit finish, first mountain stage and will provide major form pointers ahead of the crucial Alpine stages ahead.

— The 10th stage in the Swiss Alps is potentially the most gruling test of the week, with over 40km of tough ascents. It will put Ineos’ promise to race aggressively to the test. They have two climbers in their ranks capable of a bid to put time into defending champion Pogacar, or at least wear him out on a Tour thin on traditional mountain challenges.

— Ineos were talking up a fight ahead of the Tour, suggesting they would race aggressively in their bid to end Pogacar’s reign. Their two leaders are climbers Daniel Martinez and Yates who will have to wait for the mountains to launch an attack. Jumbo-Visma, runners-up in the past two years, said they would be concentrating on just surviving the opening stages. The merits of those differing strategies will be put under the microscope this week.


Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen
Updated 05 July 2022

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen

Barcelona strengthen squad by adding Kessie, Christensen
  • Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals
  • Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s

BARCELONA, Spain: Barcelona boosted their midfield and defense by signing Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen on Monday.

The 25-year-old Kessie, who had been playing for AC Milan since 2017, arrives as a free agent on a contract until June 2026 and a buyout clause of €500 million ($522 million).

Christensen comes after his contract with Chelsea ended. His deal is also until 2026 and contains the same buyout clause as Kessie’s.

Kessie will be officially introduced on Wednesday. The Ivory Coast midfielder will be the second Ivorian to play for Barcelona, after Yaya Toure in the late 2000s.

The 26-year-old Christensen will be introduced on Thursday. The Danish central defender joined Chelsea’s youth teams in 2012 and had a stint with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga before returning to Chelsea.

Christensen helped Chelsea win the Champions League, the Europea League and the Club World Cup, and was on the Danish national team that reached the semifinals of the 2020 European Championship.

Barcelona called him “strong and with great vision, a powerful center back who is excellent in the air” and “technically proficient with the ball at his feet, a perfect fit” for the Catalan club.

Kessie has 58 international appearances with his national team and played at the Tokyo Olympics as Ivory Coast reached the quarterfinals.

Kessie moved to Italy in 2014 to sign for Atalanta, where he played in the club’s youth squads before joining second-division team Cesena on a loan. Coach Gian Piero Gasperini eventually brought him back to Atalanta and he scored twice in his Serie A debut in 2016.

Kessie joined Milan on loan in 2017 and permanently signed with the club in 2019 for €33 million ($34.5 million). He helped AC Milan win its first title in 11 seasons this year. In his six seasons with Atalanta and Milan, Kessie scored 45 goals.

Barcelona called Kessie “the complete package” and a “strong midfielder with tactical awareness.”

“Kessie is a player who contributes in attack and in defense,” the club said. “Capable of winning the ball back in midfield, the African midfielder also has impressive stats as a goal-scorer, partly due to his ability to make runs into the penalty area.”

He will join a midfield that includes Sergio Busquets, Nico González and Frenkie de Jong.